SILVESTRE DE SACY, Antoine Isaac

SILVESTRE DE SACY, Antoine Isaac (baron 1814). Paris 21.9.1758 — Paris 21.2.1838. French Oriental (Arabic and Persian) Scholar. Professor in Paris. Son ofAbraham Jacques Silvestre (d. 1765),a notary of a Jansenist Jewish family, and Marie Marguerite Judde, lost early his father. Privately educated, studied law. In 1781-92 worked in financial administration, but also studied Oriental languages. He never visited Asia, but found native language teachers in France. Soon started research work. From 1795 Professor of Vulgar Arabic at É.L.O.V. (but taught only literary language),although he was royalist and catholic, taught there until death. In 1806-38 also Professor of Persian at Collège de France. Member of A.I.B.L. 1792 (1785?). Peer of France and grand officier of Légion d’honneur 1832. Married 1786, children.

Silvestre de Sacy was the most famous Arabic and Persian scholar of his times and attracted a great number of students from all over Europe to Paris.With others he founded Société asiatic and the JA as its organ, and was then the first president of Société.He had taught early Indologists such as Chézy and Garcin de Tassy, also Bopp, Kosegarten, Mitscherlich and Vullers, further Mohl, Quatremère, Reinaud.In his studies he kept some interest for India, too. It was his achievement that in 1814 the king decided to establish chairs of Sanskrit and Chinese at Collège de France (for Chézy and Abel-Rémusat). In an early work in 1793 he had succeeded in deciphering the Middle Persian Sassanian inscriptions. Also Champollion was his student and protegé.

Publications: Arabic grammar (1-2. P. 1810, rev. 2nd ed. 1831) and chrestomathy (1806, 2nd ed. 1826), Arabic and Persian text editions (e.g. Calila et Dimna. 1816, Ḥarīrī’s Maqāmas 1822) and translations, also much on history, in sum more than 450 publications (1780-1838).

Mémoires sur divers antiquités de la Perse, et sur les médailles des rois de la dynastie des Sassanides. Paris 1793; Lettre à M. Millin sur les monuments Persépolitaines. Paris 1803 (on Grotefend’s decipher­ment); “Mémoire sur les monumens et les inscriptions de Kirmanschah et de Bi-sutoun, et sur divers autres monumens Sassanides”, Hist. et Mém. de l’Inst. de France 2, 1815, 162-242, 2 pl.

Review of Malcolm’s Central India, JS 1825, 67-79, 195-204; of Tod’s Annals and Antiquities, JS 1830, 643-657 & 1831, 65-81, 225-238.

Sources: *D. Baggioni, Lex. Gramm. 1996, 901f.; Dawson & Uphill, Who Was Who in Egyptology. Rev. 2nd ed. L. 1972; *H. Dehérain, SdeS et ses correspondants. P. 1919, and *SdeS, ses contemporains et ses disciples. 33+122+69 p. Bibl. arch. et hist. 27. P. 1938; Fück 1955, 140-157; S. Larzul, D.O.L.F. 896-898; *J.-T. Reinaud, Notice historique et littéraire sur M. le Baron SdeS. Rev. 2nd ed. 4+87 p. P. 1838; *G. Salomon (ed.), SdeS (1758–1838). 1-2. 126+265, 40+279  p. Publ. Inst. fr. d’arch. or. Le Caire 1905-23; Wikipedia with portrait (see also French version); a younger (than Wiki) portrait in Le Collège de France 1530–1930. P. 1932, pl. lviii.

 *M. Espagne, N. Lafi & P. Rabault-Feuerhahn, SdeS. Le projet européen d’une science orientaliste. Paris 2014.

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